Questions You Should Ask Your Customers in an Exit Interview

Is an “Exit Interview” a good idea for lost customers and if so what questions should you ask them?

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Yes

Asking for information is always a good idea. Too often, we ask why the customer left instead of inquiring about what we could have done differently. It’s a nuance, but an important one. They will give you something like, “We decided to go in a different direction,” which isn’t actionable. Ask, “What could we have done differently?” You are likely to get one or two actionable insights.
Beth Monaghan, InkHouse
2. Yes

A bad customer experience can hurt not only the bottom line, but also the confidence of some employees. We schedule a meeting with both our sales and services teams to go through Salesforce and review the play-by-play when our results aren’t what we expected. It’s critical to perform this review to prevent the same mistakes and to resolve personnel conflicts before they arise.
Ryan Buckley, Scripted, Inc.

3. Yes

Doing an exit interview or exit survey is great for getting honest feedback as long as you ask the right questions. More importantly, ask very specific questions focusing on flaws. If you have a product, ask if it’s missing features or important functionality. Are they getting value? Is it easy to use or confusing? Also, ask if they’d be open to setting up a call to discuss in more detail.
Sujan Patel, Single Grain

4. Yes

Whenever our users churn, we always send one final email with specific questions about what they would do to improve our service, why they chose to move on, etc. Not only does this provide invaluable feedback about our product and service, but it also often leads to re-engagement of lost customers.
James Simpson, GoldFire Studios

5. Yes

If you’re looking to learn why a customer left, an honest exit interview can be hugely valuable for future growth. Ask them honestly what went wrong, what went right, and what you can change to better serve them and your current/future customers. Exit interviews can be the best source of criticism turned constructive.
Parker Powers, Millionaire Network

6. Yes

If you’re able to get an exit interview, I’d take it. I always make sure they know what they say doesn’t impact anyone’s job or anything. I find we get the best answers out of clients, and our employees aren’t afraid to report the negative results.
John Rampton, Adogy

7. Not Really

If you think about it, you’ve already lost mind share. You’re unlikely to get any valuable information from customers who have already give up on you unless these are big-ticket contracts or there is very little competition in your space. I would take this feedback with a grain of salt. A much better use of energy would be to focus on your customers when they are customers, not after.
Tracey Wiedmeyer, InContext Solutions

8. Yes

Ask them if they would stay with your service if the price was lower. This will help you figure out your sweet spot price point.
Rishi Shah, Digioh

9. No

Most customers are reluctant to share information or be truthful. The better resolve is to have your employees tell you why they lost the sale so they know you require them to be accountable for the sales process. This will help you find unique trends in their ability to close specific account types.
Sam Bahreini, VoloForce

10. Yes

An exit interview is a must because what you learn helps you retain others. We ask only three simple questions: How would you rate your satisfaction? What is your reason for leaving? What suggestions do you have for improving the product or service? We often focus on our most highly engaged customers, but there is much to learn about your offering from those who don’t like it.
David Hassell, 15Five

11. Why Not?

Be genuine and completely non-defensive. Ask for real feedback and suggestions for improvement. Ask them if they’d be willing to consider working with your organization again if these improvements were implemented. Additionally, ask them for referrals. Clients can feel bad ending a relationship, so ask them for other companies they might recommend for your goods or services.
Andrew Howlett, Rain

12. Yes

Customers leave for a lot of different reasons. In some cases, it’s your product, price point or customer service. In other cases, it may just be the timing. Either way, you want to get to the bottom of what’s diminishing the LTV of your customers. End with compassion, condolences and hopefulness so they won’t feel bad coming back in the future. The aftertaste is what lingers most.
Heidi Allstop, Spill

avatar

About Young Entrepreneur Council

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched BusinessCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

  • Questions1st

    I tend to agree with those who are reluctant about these “exit interviews” because an unhappy customer won’t take the time to explain why they don’t want to do business with you. Not to mention that they don’t always have “logical” reasons – maybe a neighbor or a friend “convinced” them to buy from them, even for a higher price, and they’ll never admit that they made a mistake

    • http://goldfirestudios.com James Simpson

      This obviously depends on the type of business. We’ve had an incredibly positive experience simply sending a quick e-mail to lost customers.